MANHATTAN JEWISH EXPERIENCE
Foremost Outreach Group
T was a
family affair as Manhattan Jewish Experience held its 12th
annual dinner in March at the Museum of Jewish Heritage with Amy
and Michael Wildes as guests of honor.
Rabbi Mark Wildes,
founding director of the wildly popular outreach organization, paid
tribute to his brother Michael as their father, Leon Wildes,
beamed with nachas [joy].
Michael recently completed
two terms as mayor of Englewood, N.J. He is now a managing partner
at his fatherís office, Wildes and Weinberg, a leading immigration
law firm in Manhattan.
Leon is known, among other
accomplishments, for representing John Lennon in the 1970s
when the FBI harassed him and Nixon tried to deport him for his
opposition to the Vietnam War. Leon successfully secured a Green
Card for Lennon, allowing him to stay in the country.
Lennonís wife, Yoko Ono,
remained friends with Leon ever since. At Michaelís bar mitzvah, she
called to apologize that she couldnít attend as her son Sean was
suffering from an earache.
Michael and Mark founded
Manhattan Jewish Experience in memory of their late mother Ruth.
Yoko was an early supporter.
"Yoko has donated over the
years," Michael said. "She was close to my mother."
Michael also represented the
last three Miss Universes, as well as soccer legend Pele. He
got Pele a visa in March, enabling him to work with the New York
Cosmos. Two months ago he got a Green Card for Sarah Brightman,
wife of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
At the dinner Rabbi Mark
Wildes also honored Elaine Gold, Michael Dodes, Rochel Leah
and Ariel Deitcher, and Jessie and David Brand.
Founded in 1998, MJE has
reconnected hundreds of young people with their Jewish heritage. It
was also the catalyst for more than 85 marriages.